Saturday, December 28, 2013

Farewell, 2013

Has another year ended already? Around this time last year, I made a New Year's resolution to blog more. I clearly failed on that point. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, dear readers: time flies when you have a grown-up job. Here's another secret: when your day consists of working, eating, and watching tv, you have fewer interesting things to write about. 

Admittedly, my job is good fodder for stories, but it would be bad form to discuss applicants on the internet. If you're interested in the life of an admissions counselor, check out Admissions Problems. Maybe in the New Year I should resolve to make an effort to do more fun things. 

I'll let you know how that goes...

Monday, August 26, 2013

My New-Found Talent

This evening I had cause to do something I have never attempted to do in my life: replace a burnt out headlight. Over the weekend, my boyfriend discovered that his driver's side headlight had gone out. Lest he break the law, he rushed to buy a new bulb, assuming that it couldn't be too hard to replace himself.

At his behest, I found a video on YouTube detailing how to replace said bulb. We watched it together, noting the intricacies of sticking your fingers into things.* Given my long spider fingers, he commented that I might have to help him with it.

What ensued was some Total Kimber Domination. I fixed the crap out of that headlight! I really enjoyed doing it, and I have a new skill! I also learned about the fuse boxes inside of cars and that pulling the fuse for my radio did not fix my CD player problem, but that's a conversation for another day.

My takeaway from tonight's adventure is that I have an innate ability to fix cars and/or I love following directions. I think it's the latter. As a child, my favorite part of playing with Legos was always the complex instructions, as opposed to making up my own things. Then again, once you've learned the fundamentals, there's no end to what you can do! Next stop: rebuilding the engine for no particular reason!**

Fixing a car in a dress = Classy! 


*That sounds vaguely gross. Sorry.
** No, not really. But I might tackle that CD player thing!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Chicken Korma = Nostalgia

Way back when I lived in Edinburgh, one of my favorite things was the chicken korma at Tikka Mahal. I have never had a korma as good as they made there, but in an attempt to capture a taste of those times, I've found and modified this korma recipe. I can't speak to its authenticity, but it's pretty tasty. It's super involved but worth the work in the end.

Chicken Korma


Ingredients 
¼ c cashew halves
¼ c boiling water
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp pure├ęd ginger
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced 
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chili pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon 
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp curry powder
4 skinless chicken breasts, diced 
¼ c tomato sauce
1 c chicken broth
½ c coconut milk
½ c plain yogurt
2 tsp cornstarch, mixed with equal parts water
Salt

Directions
1. Place cashews in a small bowl, and pour the boiling water over nuts. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. 
2. Place garlic and ginger in food processor and blend until smooth; set aside.
3. Heat oil in wok over medium heat. 
4. Stir in onion, and cook until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
5. Mix in garlic/ginger paste, and season with coriander, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, brown sugar, curry powder, and chili powder. 
6. Stir in chicken, and cook for about 5 minutes. 
7. Pour in tomato sauce and chicken broth. 
8. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
9. Meanwhile, place the cashews, along with the water in which they were soaked, and the cream and yogurt into food processor. Process until smooth.
10. Stir the cashew mixture into the chicken and onions. 
11. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
12. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.
13. Serve over basmati rice. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Pineapple Casserole

Tonight I made one of my favorite recipes, which I'd like to share with you, Dear Reader: Pineapple Casserole. The first time I share this dish with people, their reaction is usually skeptical. And yet, pineapple pizza is scientifically proven to be the best kind of pizza, so clearly pineapple and cheese belong together. This recipe is not only delicious but also super easy!

Ingredients:
1 20-oz can pineapple chunks in juice
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 ½ (approx. 25) crushed Ritz crackers
3 Tbsp melted butter

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
2. Drain pineapple juice, reserving 3 tablespoons. 
3. Arrange pineapple on the bottom of a 1½-quart casserole dish. 
4. Combine flour and sugar and sprinkle over pineapple. 
5. Drizzle pineapple juice over top. 
6. Cover with cheddar cheese. 
7. Combine crackers and butter and cover the cheese. 
8. Baked, covered for 15 minutes. 
9. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Found Art

What I am about to share is one of the most wonderful things I have ever had the pleasure of stumbling upon in a dining hall. I found this piece of art abandoned on a table my freshman year. It was drawn on the back of one of the many flyers you might find on a college campus. I photographed it with my late-2006 model camera phone and then left it for someone else to find and delight in. I considered composing an in-depth analysis of what makes this so magical, but I think I'll let the work speak for itself.


I apologize for the poor quality. The speech bubble reads, "My ambrosia salad does not have enough cherries."

That is all. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm back, bitches!

And... that's about the most exciting thing you can expect from the rest of this post. I had hoped for a triumphant return to blogging with an awesome post that was so polished and interesting you'd think I'd spent the last five months working on it. Instead, I have spent the last five months writing nothing, but now it's time to get back in the habit.


Since January, I've been actively learning how to be a college admissions counselor. I'm getting pretty good at it, I think. My job provides lots of hilarious fodder for anecdotes, but since this blog is way too public and I would like to keep my job, I'm not going to go into any of those hilarious anecdotes here. Sorry. As a consolation, I offer this link to the Admissions Problem Tumblr. It's pretty spot-on. What I will say about my job is that I work with wonderful people whom I've truly enjoyed getting to know. And while, like any job, it can be difficult and frustrating at times, I like it a lot. 

In other news, I've been doing a lot of cooking these past few months. Expect recipes and pictures in my coming posts. Other fun food-related activities I've been pursuing include the monthly food truck rallies that have been going on downtown and attending the occasional cooking class at our local Publix. So lots of things I can write about!

It's summer. I'm feeling motivated. Let's go!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Job and Some Spam

Great news, dear readers! I am now gainfully employed. I was recently hired as an admissions counselor for a local college, and I could not be happier about it. Besides the prospect of regular paychecks, I'm super psyched to be working in academia. It's pretty much the best. I'm sure this new position will eventually yield great blog posts, but for now, I will just say that my coworkers are great, and I think this is going to work out well.

But just so that you don't leave empty-handed, here's some pretty good spam, left as a comment on this very blog.

The comment was posted by a "person" named WELCOME TO TEMPLE OF SOLUTION," and here's what "she" had to say:
Hello! my name is Miss fred philiph, I’m from uk. I want to share my testimony with all of you. priest omigodo gave me the possibility to start my new and happy life with jane. The commitment and Marriage spells worked beyond my imagination. 6th of June will be always in my memory as the start of our new life. We had the most beautiful wedding and I was in the seventh heaven from happiness. I am sure that this feeling will be with us during our whole life and it will never leave us. We’ll remain grateful forever. Please my friends if you need the help of this man just contact him on his email: templeofsolution@gmail.com or call priest omigodo on his phone number +2348079367204
So... I think what she's saying ("she" being "Miss Fred Philiph") is that a "priest" named "Omigodo" used some sort of magic (i.e. "commitment and Marriage spells") to help her secure a same-sex union with "Jane." Since I'm pretty sure same-sex marriage is legal in "uk," I can only assume that Jane was not consenting to this union and that Priest Omigodo used some sort of mind control to force Jane to marry Miss Fred Philiph. That's actually pretty impressive. I guess Temple of Solution really knows how to get things done. Thanks for the comment, Miss Fred!


ALSO! I did a Google search for Priest Omigodo and I found this gem on some random message board:
I work at a very big farm and have too many chickens and sheep to feed nad take care of by myself. I needed a helping hand so I contacted priest omigodo to see if he could cast a spell and get me an extra hand to help.priest omigodo make spell for sure but it no work out so good like I expect. priest omigodo make extra hand all right, but now I have three arms and hands and it is very hard to buy clothes.Thanks but no thanks priest omigodo
Thanks but no thanks!




Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Concert I Didn't Attend

This is an old story (more than a year old now), but it's a slow news week, and I don't have anything to say about Manti Te'o. Back at the University of Edinburgh, EUSA (Edinburgh University Student Association) would host a variety of events on campus every week. These included live music, comedy, theater, etc. You know, standard college stuff. 

Well, one weekend, in an attempt to participate in the campus culture and have a fun evening, a couple of friends and I decided to go to a live DJ set by Zane Lowe. Never heard of Zane Lowe? Yeah, me neither. But my friend was buying advance tickets and I agreed to accompany her. In fact, I'd never been to a DJ set before, so I thought it would be an experience, at the very least. 


As you can see from this ticket, the show was scheduled to take place on a Sunday evening at 21:00 (that's 9:00 p.m. for those of you who don't read 24-hour time). At this point in my life, I had a standing Skype date with my parents every Sunday at 11:00 p.m., so I figured we would get there around 8:30, stay for a couple of hours, and then I would head home. I mean, realistically, how long could a DJ set last, right?

The first part of the plan goes well. We actually arrive a bit earlier than planned, but when we walk up to the venue, there isn't anyone there except for one or two official-looking people. At first, we assume everyone is already inside. It's then that we learn that the 21:00 time on our tickets is when the doors open. Ok, small setback. We decide to go to a nearby bar and drink for 45 minutes and then come back. I'm thinking if the doors open at 9:00, it should start by 10:00 and then I'll still be able to stay for an hour before I need to go home and chat with my parents.

You may be wondering, dear readers, why I didn't just cancel the Skype date so I could plan to stay later. Well, I certainly could have. But it was a Sunday night, I had class the next day, I was tired, and, to be quite honest, I missed my parents and wanted to see them. And I figured an hour would probably be long enough to enjoy a DJ I'd never heard of.

So at 9:00, we walk back to the venue. The doors are now open, we walk in, and... no one is there. Maybe 7 other people. It's then that we think to ask the official-looking people when the show is expected to start, and as casually as can be, one of them says, "Oh, probably around midnight." Excuse me? Midnight? You put 9:00 p.m. on the ticket and the show starts at midnight? Not once in any of the advertisement for this event did they indicate this show wouldn't begin until early Monday morning. They also inform us that there will be some opening acts we can enjoy starting around 10:00. Great. Thanks.

My friends and I spend the next half-hour sitting in the still mostly empty student union until one of them suggests we go across the street for some chips and cheese. That ends up being the most exciting part of the evening for me, as it was the first time I'd had chips and cheese.


After eating, we go back to the venue, where an opening DJ has started playing extremely loud music to a room of about a dozen people. I have one drink, bid my friends goodnight, and then go home, where I have a lovely conversation with my parents. The next day I learn that the DJ set lasted until about 3:00 a.m., at which time I was blissfully asleep. An excellent Sunday indeed!

And that is the story of the concert I didn't attend.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recommendation: Apple TV

I have been accused before of being a shill for the Apple company, and I admit those accusations have some validity. I own a lot of Apple products, and I really enjoy them. And while I know that Apple doesn't need my help, I'd like to make a case for the Apple TV, particularly if anyone is trying to decide whether to get one.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Apple TV, it is not a "TV" in the sense that it has a screen and you watch it. Rather, it is a small box that hooks up to your TV and does wondrous things. Primarily streaming. Exclusively streaming. But it's still wondrous!

Here are a few of the things that the Apple TV streams:

  • Hulu Plus
  • Netflix
  • YouTube
  • Select sporting events
  • Content from the iTunes store

But that's not all!

It also links to your computer and allows you to stream content wirelessly from said computer to your television. This is great if, like me, you have lots of movies loaded onto your hard drive that you would like to watch without having to connect your computer directly to your TV. And it doesn't just stream your movies. It can access your iTunes library and, if you've activated Photo Stream in the Cloud, your photos.

Plus, using AirPlay, it can play things from your phone or mirror whatever is on your phone's screen, which is nice if you want to show someone something you were looking at from Twitter or something. I don't know what you look at on your phone.

Ok, so it streams lots of things. Why is that so great?

  1. First of all, I would much rather take in all this media on my big living room TV than on my laptop. 
  2. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it's very easy to use, which means that for the first time, my mom is accessing Netflix on a regular basis. 
I have a Wii that also streams Netflix, but neither of my parents like to use it because they don't understand the Wii-mote. The Apple TV remote has buttons and does not require excessive arm waving. So now I keep the Wii in our back room, where all the gaming takes place and where we can stash my niece and nephew when they need to watch My Little Pony, and the Apple TV stays in the living room, where we can have family movie night. Or where my mom can watch 8 episodes of Downton Abbey in a row. That said, the Apple TV might not be for you.

Reasons you might not want to get an Apple TV:
  • If you have a Roku box
    • The Roku box, as I understand it, does most of the same things as the Apple TV, making a new device redundant.
  • If you have an Xbox 
    • The same could be said for the Xbox, except that it works with Windows Media Player. If you have a Mac, the Apple TV is probably going to be easier to set up and use out of the box for streaming stuff from your computer. But as Xbox users know, it will stream Netflix and Hulu Plus and the like, so if you're like me, you might want to keep the Xbox hooked up where you play most of your games and hook up an Apple TV where you watch most of your media, if they're different places.
  • If you don't own any other Apple products
    • Apple TV works with iTunes and at least one of the benefits involves linking it to your iPhone. If you don't use iTunes and/or don't have an iDevice to link it to, then you won't get the most out of the Apple TV.
But me, I love it. I've been wanting one for a long time, and it has more than lived up to my expectations. And at less than $100, it's a pretty good deal. So there you go. Apple TV.


Apple, give me a cut of every one of these you sell from now on.

Monday, January 7, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Twelve: Black-Eyed Pea Cakes

Well, we did it, chums. You got 12 new posts and I proved to myself that I can create original content on the regular. True, this one is a day late, but that's better than a month late, I suppose.

For this final post of Christmas, I would like to share one of my most successful new recipes: Black-Eyed Pea Cakes.

I got the recipe from one of the food demonstration people at Publix and then I modified it to be vegan. I served them at my New Year's Eve party (for good luck), and they were a huge hit, so my boyfriend and I made them again a couple of days ago. As fast as we could churn them out, they were gone. Here's how we did it.

     Ingredients

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, drained, rinsed, and divided
  • 1 8-oz. tub Tofutti (fake cream cheese) or regular cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • green pepper sauce (recipe calls for 2 tsp, but I use a lot more and eyeball it)
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 almond milk (or soy or regular milk, but I like the almond)
  • canola oil
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • other spices (to taste) - this is the step where you get to be creative because I'm not going to tell you what to put in there, mostly because I can't remember. I was just tossing things in willynilly 

1. Whisk together corn meal, flour, and baking soda.

2. Using a food processor or immersion blender, blend together corn meal mixture, one can of beans, green pepper sauce, milk, Tofutti, salt, pepper, and any other spices you wish.

3. Stir in second can of beans and green onions.

4. Form into 4-inch patties.


5. Heat enough oil in a large pan to coat the bottom of the pan, and fry patties 3-4 at a time. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until they start to get brown and crispy.


We served them with green pepper sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, and/or sour cream. Very popular!


Saturday, January 5, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Eleven: Almost There

We've almost finished the Twelve Days of Christmas, chums. Today I saw something really funny while I was out shopping, so I'm just posting a picture of that thing.


You're welcome.

Friday, January 4, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten: Christmas Movie Round-Up

What is Christmastime without Christmas movies? Well, it's still Christmastime, but it's slightly less awesome. This Christmas, as per tradition, I watched my two favorite Christmas movies for the umpteenth time AND I watched a film that, you will be surprised to learn, I'd never seen before. So now I'm going to talk about those three movies a little bit.

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol


There are so many things to love about this movie. So rather than writing a wordy paragraph about them, here's a list I've compiled:
  • Charles Dickens
  • The Muppets
  • Charles Dickens + The Muppets
  • Michael Caine
  • Singing
  • "Fozziwig" 
  • Using actual lines from A Christmas Carol
  • Bean Bunny
  • Crying during the "Tiny Tim is dead" scene
  • Crying during all of the songs
  • Sam Eagle telling young Ebeneezer that hard work is "the American way" and then changing it to "the British way" after Gonzo whispers in his ear
  • The rat clerks
  • Waldorf and Statler as Marley and Marley
And that's just to name a few. This movie is so funny, so heartwarming, and so (strangely) faithful to the original that I can't bear not to watch it during the holidays. It's easily my favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol and one of the best films in the Muppets' catalog.


2. It's a Wonderful Life


I hope no one could argue that this isn't a classic Christmas movie. I don't even really feel the need to explain my reasoning for having it in my top 2. It's all about one man making a major difference in the lives of his friends and neighbors even if he doesn't see it himself, and that's really beautiful. If you've never seen It's a Wonderful Life, you really need to. Not only because it's a great movie but so that you can understand this SNL parody.




3. The Nightmare Before Christmas


Ok, confession time. Before this year, I had never seen The Nightmare Before Christmas. Shocking, I know. I tried watching it a couple of times as a child, but it really creeped me out, so I stopped. Over the years, I heard most of the music from the movie, and I knew what it was about. I even beat the Halloweentown level on Kingdom Hearts. But I just couldn't bring myself to actually sit down and watch the movie. But this Christmas I discovered it on Netflix and I decided it was time. And you know what? It was just as creepy as it was when I was a kid. But it was also pretty funny. I especially enjoyed the scene where Jack is trying to figure out the science behind Christmas. This chalkboard is great. Science!


And I felt that as a person who grew up in the 90s, it was my duty and obligation to have watched this perennial Hallow-mas/Christma-ween classic. The ending was a bit abrupt, but that's fine. It was still a pretty solid film, and I'm glad I saw it. 

And you know, this movie isn't all that different from It's a Wonderful Life: man is dissatisfied with life, wishes for different life, realizes life was actually pretty good. And also there's skeletons. Yeah, that sounds about right. Merry Movie-Watching, everyone!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Nine: New Year's Resolutions

Well, it's that time again, friends: time for New Year's Resolutions. Aside from "blog at least once per week," I'm going to keep my resolutions to myself, mostly because they sound lame. But to give you something to ponder, here's a great list of resolutions by Woody Guthrie that I found on Brain Pickings. I think I'll take a page from Woody's book and spend 2013 working more and better and washing my teeth, if any.

  1. Work more and better
  2. Work by a schedule
  3. Wash teeth if any
  4. Shave
  5. Take bath
  6. Eat good - fruit - vegetables - milk
  7. Drink very scant if any
  8. Write a song a day
  9. Wear clean clothes - look good
  10. Shine shoes
  11. Change socks
  12. Change bed cloths often
  13. Read lots good books
  14. Listen to radio a lot
  15. Learn people better
  16. Keep rancho clean
  17. Dont get lonesome
  18. Stay glad
  19. Keep hoping machine running 
  20. Dream good
  21. Bank all extra money
  22. Save dough
  23. Have company but dont waste time
  24. Send Mary and kids money
  25. Play and sing good
  26. Dance better
  27. Help win war - beat fascism
  28. Love mama
  29. Love papa
  30. Love Pete
  31. Love everybody
  32. Make up your mind
  33. Wake up and fight

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Eight: Eggnog and Angel Food Cake

You know what goes hand-in-hand during the holiday season? Eggnog and angel food cake. I bet you're wondering why, dear reader. Well, I'll tell you!

I always make my own eggnog this time of year. I think it tastes better than the store-bought stuff, it's not a strange shade of yellow, and I feel comforted knowing exactly what's going into it. Plus, when people drink it, I get that praise I so crave. So a few years ago I started making egg nog, and I've pretty well perfected it by now (if I do say so myself), but one thing has always eluded me: what to do with the leftover egg whites. My recipe calls for a dozen egg yolks, leaving me with a lot of unused egg. I could make egg white omelets or some bullshit, but that's way too healthy.

So this year, for the first time, I decided to Google what to do with leftover egg whites, and I discovered that angel food cake just happens to require about a dozen of them. Hooray! So now I've got a new holiday tradition. For every batch of eggnog I make, I also have to bake a cake. Logic!

My eggnog recipe can be found on this previous post. Here's how I made the angel food cake:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 cup, plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup egg whites (about 12 large eggs) at room temperature
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a tube or Bundt pan.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium speed. When they become foamy, add the cream of tartar and lemon juice. The cream of tartar will act as a stabilizer for the eggs.

4. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip the egg whites until they just begin to hold their shape in soft, droopy peaks. Gradually whip the remaining sugar into the whites, 1/4 cup at a time. Do not overwhip. You want them soft and cloud-like. Just before you finish whipping, add the vanilla.

5. With a rubber spatula, gradually fold the flour mixture into the egg whites.

6. Spoon batter into pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and immediately invert the pan over a cooling rack and let it sit until cool. Then remove the pan and enjoy!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013